We asked Deepa Verma, a Senior Research Manager in our sunny Singapore office, to give us an inside look at what her job is really like – from how she gets to work in the morning, to the social platforms she uses most often, and the most unique thing about her team.
Tell us about your job.
“Oh, so you call people at dinner time and try to sell them vacuum cleaners?” I think most of us have been here at some point! I’m happy to report that my family and friends now have a much clearer understanding of what market researchers do. I believe my job is to delve into the mindset of consumers, find out what makes them tick, what motivates their behavior, and how they go about making decisions. It’s also about being able to analyze, condense, and communicate that information in a way that will give clients the confidence to make smarter, more informed business decisions.
How do you commute to work in the morning?
I always take the bus because it’s the most convenient option for me. It stops right outside my condo and when you live one degree north of the equator, you do whatever you can to avoid looking like a hot mess when you arrive at the office. So minimal air-conditioned-condo to air-conditioned-public-transport to air-conditioned-office time is key!
What is your beverage of choice when you get to the office? Coffee or tea?
What might you find yourself doing around 10 a.m. on a regular work day?
On any given day, 10am is typically when the team gets stuck into the “doing”. We might be discussing requests from other offices that have come in overnight, scrambling to book meeting rooms, allocating resources for the week ahead, debating whether Breaking Bad is truly the greatest TV series of all time, listening to focus group discussions about what university students in Singapore do in their leisure time, or delving into the world of beauty and trying to help our clients make sense of the latest skincare trend sweeping the region.
What are your top two sources of news and how often do you check them?
The BBC app is my everyday source for what’s happening in the world. I also frequent the Instagram profiles of various freelance journalists, photojournalists and documentary photographers, especially when I know someone is covering a topic that’s close to my heart. I believe one photograph can tell a story in a way that no other media can.
Which social platforms do you use most often? Are they relevant to your work or is their purpose solely leisure?
I really like Instagram. I personally use it as a micro-blogging site to document my travels, and yes, I certainly utilize it when working on secondary research projects. I love that the uses for it are endless – from starting your own business, to launching a new product, to travel inspiration, to scouring a new city for restaurant recommendations, to stalking your best friend’s new boyfriend, to getting geotags for a photograph that you want to recreate.
How do you think the research and analytics trends in your region differ from other regions?
The complexity with Asia, and even South East Asia, is that despite its geographical proximity, each country is vastly different from the other. And within each country, you may not necessarily have one homogeneous population. Undertaking research in Singapore is a perfect example of where we need to carefully craft an approach that will meet the needs of three key ethnic groups, as well as foreigners. Such diversity in each Asia market can prove challenging at times, especially when it comes to language, cultural barriers and how people access and consume information. When working on multi-market studies in the region, we are constantly striving to strike a balance between ensuring the research program is tailored and localized to suit each market, but at the same time allowing for consistency in methodology and comparative data. Easier said than done!
What is the most unique thing about your office team?
There are only six of us but we all come from a mix of different backgrounds, both on a personal and professional level. And between us, we speak 10 different languages! We also have a constant supply of treats from around the world and are not shy about asking visiting colleagues to bring a few packets of Tim Tams from Australia, or freshly baked egg tarts from Hong Kong.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned since graduating college — about the workplace or the communications world in general?
Learning how to harness diversity as a strength – when you bring a pool of people together with different backgrounds and experiences, you gain a variety of perspectives that will ultimately lead to increased creativity, greater problem solving-ability and enhanced teamwork and collaboration. I believe this is core to a global organisation like Edelman Intelligence – by creating a culture of diversity in the workplace, we are better equipped to meet the needs of each market we service. This is particularly important for our region where consumer behavior in even Malaysia and Indonesia, which are practically next door, varies significantly as compared to Singapore. It’s vital that we are able to navigate these cultural nuances, however subtle they may be, in order to better understand the client and their target audience.
If you told yourself ten years ago what you would be doing today, what would have your response been then?
Ten years ago, I was starting my career in a tiny but mighty boutique agency in Sydney. If someone had told me then that I’d end up working alongside one of the account managers from that agency (Cat), in Singapore no less, I definitely would not have believed them.
Which “Be” do you most closely associate with? Why?
Be curious. Curiosity is the key to constant learning and it keeps the mind active.
What are you doing when you’re not at work?
Travelling. I was born in Fiji and I grew up in New Zealand, which is literally at the bottom of the earth. So, I’ve always been curious about new places, people and cultures. Travelling for me is about discovering, learning, absorbing and being challenged. It has made me realize how capable I am of achieving things that are outside of my comfort zone, which has helped to build my self-confidence. I’ve been fortunate enough to make friends with people from all over the world and that has made me appreciate the fact that my world view isn’t the same as everyone else’s. My love for travel has also allowed me to live and work in vastly different cities such as London and Singapore, which has ultimately helped shape my career.
What is your favorite restaurant in your city?
This is a really difficult question for someone living in a country where eating is a religion! One of the great things about Singapore is the melting pot of Chinese, Malay, and Indian cultures – that means fabulous food at every corner. From the delicious and super affordable hawker centre fare, through to the Michelin restaurants – it’s difficult to pick just one. But if I had to, I would choose No Signboard Seafood in Geylang for their melt-in-your-mouth black pepper crab.
What motto do you live by?
“Sometimes we need to stop analyzing the past, stop planning the future, stop figuring out precisely how we feel, stop deciding exactly what we want and just see what happens”. – Carrie Bradshaw.
To explore careers at EI, click here.